Sacred mountain in Shiga, it called Hieizan mountain.

Before you go climb that Hieizan mountain, here's our beginners guide to trekking to Hieizan Mountain.

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If you are beginner to climb, please don't worry. The route where we choose, it would be great to enjoy.

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But please invest your good quality of equipment and bring your enough water.

During your trek to Hieizan mountain, make sure you stay properly hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Finally, trekking is not race, so go at your own pace is most important.

Now, lets' go!

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(1) Nearest station

Nearest station of Hieizan Mountain is "Sakamoto Hieizanguchi" station (Keihan Line).

From the station, just go to Hiyoshi Taisha Shine's Torii gate. It is easy access, its just follow the sign board.

It takes around 5 minutes by walk.

(2) Entrance of Hieizan Mountain Trekking

3.jpgThis is a Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Left side of Torii gate, there are some stairs made by stone.

4.jpgThis is a first step of Hieizan Mountain.

Stairs will be continued to 2nd entrance of Hieizan. Just follow the stairs until end.

From here, there is no ENGLISH sign board, so there is only Japanese sign.

But please don't worry, it is easy access to the goal called Hieizan Enryakuji temple.

Enjoy the scenery of Lake Biwa and ancient stone statue, breathe in the fresh air insidethe wood, and appreciate the things that you see along the way.

(3) Way to the Hieizan Enryakuji Temple

After the stone stairs, you will be on the street vlike this.

5.jpg6.jpgEnd of this street, you can see the iron gate.

7.jpgAfter the this iron gate, you can walk on the stone and rustic wood, but it is no quite danger way. Its just struggling to walk....

8.jpgContinues to walk, you can see some statue and sign board. We've enjoyed making some stone ornaments like this ;-)

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We are trying to find some place to rest, middle of the way to the top, there is a place like this.

9.jpg10.jpgStone statue on the line. There is a wooden chair to sit down in front of this statue.

After the rest, we go for walk again!

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If you see this sign board, it said Enryakuji temple is so close.

12.jpgBut it not said how long. So we need to walk....

13.jpgAround Hieizan mountain and Enryakuji area called Sakamoto, it quite famous as a great stone work in ancient time. So you can see some ancient stone work in everywhere of this route.

And is you see this old wooden ruin and turtles, it will be ending your journey.

14.jpg19.jpgUnfortunately, from here to the goal is soooo slightly uphill.....

15.jpgIt must be difficult but goal is just there, you must go.

16.jpgThsi sign borard is a goal, here is a next to the Hieizan Enryakuji Kaiakan hall (accommodation).

17.jpgIf you are OK, please up to the Hieizan Enryakuji temple's formal gate called Monjuro to Konpon-chudo to pray.

111.jpg222.jpg333.jpgKonpon-Chudo is a Enryakuji's main building, and undergoing some renovation and will be covered by scaffolding until at least 2026.

Watch the video to learn how Enryauji is : https://www.tokyostreetview.com/hieizan-enryakuji-temple-shiga/

Experience Luxury Floor "Vista" at Biwako Hotel

Warm, comforting and creative, the Luxury room "Vista" is a luxuriously appointed relaxing space, from beautiful bedrooms to elegant bathroom is now open for public.

DSC04394.jpgAll are appointed with separate showers and "Airy" bathrooms.

DSC04403.jpgAll come with a coffee machine and local sweets, beverages including Japanese Sake from the local.

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A private check-in is available inside the room, only for you. This beautiful luxury rooms offer all the key features of the superior and deluxe bedrooms with awesome view from the balcony and much more!

DSC04411.JPGFor more information about Biwako Hotel : https://en.biwako-visitors.jp/spot/detail/110

Making chopsticks in Maibara

What could be better as a perfect gift or memento of your time in Japan than making your own chopsticks? At Rosa & Berry Tawada you can do just that. The process is surprisingly easy to get the hang of and it's a great solo or group activity.

When you arrive, you can meander around the gardens which are themed after English gardens. There are shops for souvenirs and plenty of views to take in. The best time to visit would likely be spring or summer when the flowers should be in bloom but even walking around in February, it was still enjoyable to walk around.

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There is a hall where all of the crafts take place and there was quite a wide variety of things to do, including cooking. I think there is a lot of potential to have a crafty day out and come away with many hand-made and custom souvenirs if you wanted to make a day out of it.

To make the chopsticks, you are given two sticks and all the materials you need. All you have to do is choose the style you want to make and actually make them! First, sand down the wood and start to shape the chopsticks as you like them. We had examples to look at and help us work towards the perfect style for our work. We had to sit outside for this part since there is a lot of wood shavings and a small bin and brush were provided to clear the workspace, plus work mats to work over.

j-2.jpgThere was a small draw back that it was quite cold but they brought out blankets for us to keep warm whilst we worked and I was so intent on making my chopsticks that I didn't really notice how cold it was. In spring, summer, and fall the cold shouldn't be a problem!

In no time at all, I had some smooth, shaped chopstick looking wooden sticks. We relocated back into the hall for the next part which was to wood burn a design into the chopsticks. This part was the hardest for me, since I just couldn't decide what to include on mine. You could choose to write the dates as a commemorative item, maybe some small icons that remind you of Japan or something you like. I chose to do a cat outline and wind the tail around the chopsticks. I also included the kanji for Japan and the date so that I could keep them as commemorative chopsticks.

The last step is to oil them and you can add more oil to coat them again when you get home if you like. And voila - it was as easy as that! I am so happy with how they turned out and it's very satisfying to have made them myself.

After a productive morning, we went for lunch. There is a café which has buffet style dining on site here and I would highly recommend eating there since the food is amazing. It's all locally sourced and it's easy to find something you like - and eat as much of it as you like! The food was great but the desserts were absolutely amazing. My highlights were the small tarts, eclairs and chocolate mousse which I went back for seconds (and thirds!) of. They were little bite size desserts, so eating lots of them is totally feasible!

When you've eaten as many desserts as you can, a visit to Samegai Trout Farm to walk it off amongst the fishes is in order! It's a scenic drive up to the farm with nature surrounding you. The farm itself has many different types of trout and there is information along the way to learn about them if you'd like. You can also feed them and there is a fishing area too. It was really fun to watch the fish flocking for food and collecting stamps of the varieties of trout as we went around.

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(Author : JoeleyBeckett, ALT teacher)

Sunainosato

Are you looking for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big city?Then you should definitely check out Sunainosato in Otsu, Shiga. Sunainosato is a refreshing place which combines nature and Japanese hospitality to create a truly ethereal place. It is located on the border of Kyoto and Shiga. Heavily focused on nature and tradition, the displays, menus and estetic change with the seasons and holidays. This sweet spot will serve you traditional Japanese sweets, gourmet lunches,some of the best baked goods on the planet, as well as offer scenic seasonal flower gardens with the great hospitality Japan is famous for! You can even try your hand at making traditional Japanese sweets and other traditional activities. English speaking staff is available so don't fret too much about the language barrier. If you make a reservation, you can also try it.

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Feel free to roam around the complex and discover charms unlike anything else. We recommend looking for all of the small child statues. They have really cute poses!

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Come and enjoy the amiable atmosphere and high class food like Omi Beef( A strong contender for the best beef in Japan... watch out Kobe!)! We recommend this spot for foreign visitors who want to take a slower pace and commune with nature and tradition. Got questions? Comment section is below!

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Sunainosato

4-2-1 Oishi Ryumon, Otsu 520-2266, Shiga Prefecture

Follow them on Instagram: sunainosato_kankou

(Author : Deuce Ludas Griggs, Kansai Tourism Bureau)

Rosa+&+Berry+Restaurant.jpgThe Rosa & Berry Tawada English Garden is truly a gem in Maibara, Shiga that should, undeniably, be experienced. The property boasts a café, two restaurants, gift & garden shops and offers many activities which are perfect for groups of all ages and sizes. I recently took a group tour of the property and it was an amazing experience. Upon arrival, the scenery was spectacular with its beautiful floral arrangements and the atmosphere was quite peaceful. I participated in the chopsticks making workshop and it was exciting to customize my own chopsticks. I am by no means an artist; but the staff were quite helpful and provided model chopsticks for inspiration. Upon completing my 'masterpiece', my group and I dined at Restaurant Daichi and their diverse menu items were exquisite.

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The next leg of my group tour took me to the Samegai Trout Farm which is home to the endemic Biwamasu in Shiga. Since it was established in 1878, the farm had a serene and rustic feel which I adored. It was rather enjoyable to feed and even touch the fish in designated areas. The mini quiz pamphlet provided was a treat; and it was great to learn quick facts about the trout while collecting stamps along the way. I was also impressed that you have the option to catch your own fish and have it cooked for you.

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Overall, my tour was a great experience and it was wonderful to have participated in this event. Shiga has so much to offer and is a great area to explore with friends and family. I am eager to travel throughout the region and see what other hidden treasures await me. So my advice to anyone traveling to Japan: Come and discover Shiga, you will most certainly be pleased.

(Author : Kai Oliver, ALT Teacher)

The first plate of the night was this Ōmi beef-cold shabu shabu(sliced beef) with sesame sauce. As the first dish of the dinner, there was a lot of anticipation built up from this moment. Mouth watering and feeling famished, I took my first bite of the small brown part that is cut in three featured blow. An explosion of flavor set off every dopamine receptor in my brain. I am usually not a fan of cold meat dishes, but this culinary concoction may be the only exception to the rule.

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The second small plate consisted of three other dishes ;marinéd miso Herring roe, beef tartare and steamed duck. The real selling point for me were the various textures of each small bite. The duck had a firm and meaty texture (I honestly thought it was beef). The tartare was body temperature and was succulent. A very delicate flavor that kept to the theme of the prior dish with the same sauce. The most interesting of all was the marinated roe. The roe had tons of little pearl-like eggs that popped playfully on my palate. In short, it was a very fun dish to eat!

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Continuing on my devourment, Ōmi Beef with boiled vegetable for shabu shabu was next on my hit list. The broth had subtle flavors that did not overpower the star of the dish, the beef. I quickly finished this dish as I could see the chef beginning to prepare the steaks for the main course.

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The soup for this season was actually made of flowers. I could smell a bit of the floral remnants so I expected it to have a grassy or floral flavor, however I was pleasantly surprised by the creamy texture the soup had! It was a bit heavier than I expected as well but not so heavy as to fill me up.

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Ōmi beef steak. The reason to come. It did not disappoint. Order it medium rare. No spoilers on this one folks. It is one of those things that you must experience for yourself.

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The rice dish of the set was beef curry over rice. Although small in terms of size, it was big on flavor. The curry itself was quite mellow and allowed me to appreciate the domestically grown rice for its high quality. It was a very simple dish that was executed very well.

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The seasonal dessert was a strawberry shortcake. I am not huge into baked goods, but it was really the perfect compliment to an amazing meal. Great thanks to the chef and staff of Matsukiya.

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Matsukiya in Otsu,Shiga

9 Courses of Blissful Enjoyment

Address: 14-17 Karahashicho, Otsu 520-0851, Shiga Prefecture TEL:+81 77-534-2901

(Author : Mr Deontae Deuce Griggs, Kansai Tourism Bureau)

Maibara; Shiga's Hidden Gems

IMG_3405SS.jpgLast week, along with two other expats we went on a tour of Maibara and try out making our own unique chopsticks, eat beautiful seasonal dishes and visit a trout farm tucked away in the forest's of Maibara.
We set off from Maibara station and headed towards our first stop, Rosa & Berry Tewada, an English Garden park. Though it's only accessible by car, it's definitely worth a visit. There are a wide variety of crafts and cooking workshops you can take, from making wind chimes and hats to cooking your own pizza in a wood fired oven!
I had the opportunity to make my own set of chopsticks. The workshop took about an hour and in the end I came away with a pair of cute chopsticks with a wood burned sheep design.
Feeling quite chuffed after making my sheep chopsticks, we then ate lunch at Daichi restaurant (located in the park grounds) to try out our handmade chopsticks.
It was an all-you-can eat restaurant serving delicious dishes made with locally grown vegetables, inclduding produce grown in Rosa & Berry Tewada's own vegetable patches. The lunch was delicious but for me the desserts were the highlight.I would go back just for the cherry chocolate mousse and the roasted green tea ice cream!
After lunch we headed towards our final tourist stop, Samegai Trout Farm. Surrounded by a tranquil forest, Samegai is the perfect location for a spot of fishing with guaranteed success.
One of the best parts about this place is that you can eat the fresh trout! Sprinkled with a generous amount of salt and grilled, fresh fish has never tasted better.
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You don't necessarily have to fish for yourself, ofcourse. There are several restaurants around the farm that serve fresh Biwa salmon, Rainbow trout and White-Spotted char.
Although I was still quite full from lunch, I still took a quick look at the menu and my mouth watered at the Biwa Salmon Kaiseki cuisine (a traditional multi-course Japanese meal).
I'll definitely be coming back here in the humid summer months to cool off by the clear streams at Samegai Trout Farm and maybe spot some fireflies in the evening!
Overall, I was surprised by the variety of activities and cuisine Maibara has to offer. I had a fantastic time! I would highly recommend these places to both travellers with families and those who seek something different on their journey in Japan. You are one rental car away from experiencing the best of Maibara!
(Author : Amy Vivian-Neal, ALT teacher)

Day Trip to Nagahama city

e.jpgWhen given the opportunity to take a trip to Nagahama for a day while studying abroad in Hikone, I knew immediately I had to go. Now, remembering the trip, I will make sure I visit Nagahama again in the future, as there are so much more things to see and do in the area than can fit in one day.

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Many, if not all, regions in Japan have special meals or types of food that are considered special to the area. The first stop on our trip was to the restaurant Yokarou. There, we enjoyed somen noodles with mackerel. I was very impressed by the mild, savory flavor of the dish. The environment of the restaurant felt like a very significant cultural experience. From the screens dividing the rooms, to the traditional way we removed our shoes when we entered and sat on pillows on the floor, I felt like I was learning something new every second I spent at Yokarou.

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Next, we visited the Kaiyodo Figure Museum. This was the part of the trip I was most excited for. As someone who loves miniatures and figures, as well as pop culture, this was a great place to explore. We saw many characters from cartoons, video games, and anime, as well as detailed animals and vehicles. My favorite item there was the many dinosaur figures on display. Another great thing about this museum is the huge collection of gachapon, or vending machines for capsule toys. We got to take home some complementary capsule toys, as well as some souvenirs I bought from the gift shop.

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Lastly, we were lucky enough to view the 68th Nagahama Bonsai Exhibition of Ume Trees with Blossoms. The displays of numerous bonsai trees of all shapes and color made it impossible to not be amazed. I took dozens of pictures there. My favorite part about this location is the amazing smell that the trees create within the building. We were very lucky to participate in this event, as the trees only blossom within a very short time span around February.

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Overall, the city of Nagahama was a great place to walk around for the day. The shops are very open and welcoming to customers, and there are many souvenirs to choose from. I indulged and bought some strawberry daifuku. I shared them with my roommate, and they were an amazing way to remember my trip.

Author : Talia Pulliam

c.jpgUpon arriving in Nagahama after a scenic drive along the lake, we went to a restaurant called Yokarou that serves local Nagahama food. The inside was set up like a traditional Japanese building, so we took our shoes off and walked around in our socks. Our table was upstairs in a room lined with screens of Japanese art. We were served mackerel on top of somen noodles, a local specialty, along with some sides and green tea. It tasted really good.

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Next, we made our way to the Kaiyodo Figure Museum. This was the highlight of the trip for me. The museum has figures for almost everything--anime, video games, manga, movies, and miscellaneous things, like animals and artistic works not connected to media. I was surprised and very happy to find a figure of the xenomorph from the Alien movie series, as it was something I was looking for in the museum but not expecting to actually find. This museum is especially good for people who enjoy Japanese anime and manga, as a large portion of the museum is filled with those. There's a lot of Evangelion figures, like a life-sized Ayanami Rei that I got a picture with. I wholeheartedly feel that everyone interested in Japanese media can find something that speaks to them in this museum, as there were so many varieties of things. Godzilla, Black Jack, Hatsune Miku, Snake from the Metal Gear series, Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, and many, many more. They have a gift store, too, with figures available to buy, ranging in prices depending on the size. I know I saw some Yu-Gi-Oh figures and even some Marvel and DC ones. My friend bought a Shiga souvenir with Kirby on it. Surprisingly, there were also Hikonyan souvenirs there.

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After leaving the museum, we went to an exhibition of a variety of bonsai trees, which takes place every year in February. The exhibition was held in a traditional Japanese building that we first had to walk through a beautiful garden to reach. The hallways filled with a very sweet smell from the bonsai trees, making the experience all the more pleasant. They had small trees, the blossoms of those seeming too big for trees of that size, but lovely all the same. They had big trees, too, one of which had a whole pond in its display. Watching the blossoms from the wide-reaching branches drift down and land in the water below was very soothing. I fell in love with that tree. I also adored the twisting and seemingly hollowed bark of many of the other trees.

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My roommate and I immediately knew we had to come back to Nagahama and explore more of it.

Author : Colleen O'Keefe

Сига, Япония

IMG_1899.JPGСегодня я расскажу о трех достопримечательностях префектуры Сига (Shiga prefecture), Япония.

Префектура Сига расположена в центральной части основного острова Японского архипелага, острова Хонсю. Известна префектура Сига, в первую очередь, тем, что на её территории находиться озеро Бива (Biwa lake) - самое большое озеро в Японии.

В статье речь пойдет о трех изумительных местах восточного побережья озера Бива: синтоистском храмовом комплексе Taga Taisha, пещере Kawachi no Kazaana и буддийском храме Kongourinji.

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Храм Тага (Taga Taisha ) расположен в одноименном городе Тага и является самым большим синтоистским храмом префектуры Сига, посвященный богам Изанаги и Изанами. Храмовый комплекс кроме непосредственно главного храма включает многочисленные постройки: памятники истории, 14 средних и малых храмов, места отдыха и т.д. Рядом с основными воротами храмового комплекса Тага расположена торговая улочка с местными сувенирными магазинами, кафе и ресторанами. На территории комплекса протекает речка, разбит живописный традиционный японский сад, растут многовековые японские криптомерии, деревья сакуры и японские клены. Весной в конце марта - начале апреля можно любоваться расцветшей сакурой, и во второй половине ноября огненно-красными кленами. Храм пользуется большой популярностью у местных жителей, сюда приходят помолиться, купить обереги-омамори, здесь проводят различные религиозные обряды, свадебные церемонии. В храмовом комплексе организуют местные фестивали-мацури, основные из которых приходятся на 3 января (фестиваль, посвященный празднованию начала нового года), 22 апреля (Тага мацури, главный фестиваль храма), первая неделя июня (празднование первых посевов риса), 3-5 августа (фестиваль бумажных фонарей). Храм Тага ассоциируется с удачей, долголетием и успешным браком. В храме есть лавка сувениров, где можно приобрести различные обереги-омамори, в том числе, пользующиеся популярностью среди молодых людей, обереги удачного брака. На территории комплекса также расположен музей-галерея, представлены к обозрению комнаты традиционного японского дома эпохи Эдо. Храм наполнен солнечной энергией, жизнерадостной атмосферой, в нем витает чувства воодушевления и созидания.

IMG_1828.JPGСледующая на очереди достопримечательность - пещера Kawachi no Kazaana. Это очень необычное место, расположенное в отдалении от населенных пунктов, высоко в горах. Чтобы пройти непосредственно к пещере надо подняться вверх по горной тропе. Прогулка не очень утомительная, пейзажи гор с густым лесом завораживают, а горная речушку, пролегающая по маршруту, радует слух своим мелодичным журчанием. Нужно немного постараться, чтобы попасть в саму пещеру, так как, вход в нее всего 1 метр в высоту. Температура в самой пещере, в которую никогда не попадают солнечные лучи, не превышает 12 градусов по Цельсию, поэтому запаситесь теплой кофтой или курткой для поездки к этому удивительному месту. Внутри пещеры проведено искусственное освещение, прохладно и влажно. Сама пещера представляет собой природное вулканическое углубление в горе площадью 1544 м².

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Еще одна пользующаяся популярностью достопримечательность префектуры Сига - буддийский храм Kongourinji. История его создания уходит в далекий VIII-ой век н.э. Храм входит в тройку храмов Koto Sanzan, религиозного направления Tendai. Храм занимает большую территорию, на которой разбит японский сад с традиционным японским прудом, мостиками и переходами. В пруду плавают священные карпы и цветут лилии. Основной храм расположен на небольшой возвышенности, к которой ведут каменные ступени. При подъеме вашими спутниками будут сотни каменных маленьких будд, расположенных по обеим сторонам дороги, начиная с подножия и до самой вершины лестницы. Они указывают вам путь в храм и охраняют ваше продвижение. На вершине вы будете вознаграждены незабываемыми видами на храм Kongourinji, который производит впечатление как снаружи, так и внутри, а также многовековой трехэтажной пагодой, построенной в XIII столетии. Храм славиться большим количеством японских кленов, растущих на всей его территории. В сезон "момидзи" - любование осенней листвой (середина-вторая половина ноября) вся территория храма превращается в пылающее буйство красок с неописуемыми пейзажами.

(Author : Herashchanka Alena, びわ湖花街道)

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Day 3 - 70km - Makino to Maibara via Lake Yogo

I woke early once again on my final day and went down to the beach for a morning swim. The freshwater was incredibly refreshing andset me in a good mood to start the last leg of the journey.

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I set off after a hearty breakfast towards the hills of Northern Shiga. The first section was spectacular; skirting around the dramatic hills jutting out into the lake. When I reached the upper Eastern corner of the lake, I had the option to head a little further North to explore the secluded lake Yogo. This turned out to be a very pleasant part of the journey as it is tucked away from busy roads and residential areas and I highly recommended this peaceful spot to anyone who visits the area.

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I then followed the coastline South through Nagahama city and then on to Maibara. The Nagahama castle, located a few minutes walk from Nagahama station, is well worth a visit and was my final stop before returning to Maibara at the end of my journey.

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Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of cycling a loop around lake Biwa. I feel that it offered great variety from the cultural sites in the East to the rolling rice fields in the West and the dynamic landscape of the North. I'd love to try it again in the future especially during the cherry blossom or Autumn colours seasons as I think seeing it at a different time of year would really enhance the journey!

(Author : Simon Richards, Audley Travel)